Sunday, February 27, 2011

Maimonedes' Eight Degrees of Charity

I've been mulling over some thoughts/questions about charity in light of both TNL at the Gothic events.

I ran into this article, Mark Zuckerberg's charity pledge draws uncharitable sniping, that discuss this recent spat of very public charity being done by some of the richest people in America, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. Even though the question it asks, "Is it best to do so anonymously or to set a public example for others?", is interesting, the most interesting info that came out of it was mentioning Maimonedes's Eight Degrees of Charity.

The eight degrees of Charity go from highest/best to lowest/worst.
  1. Helping someone by giving them a present, a loan, a partnership or a job so that they no longer need charity.

  2. Giving to the poor where you don't know who you are giving to and the poor don't know who are giving to them. Maimonedes makes the point that if you are using an intermediary to administer the charity, make sure they are faithful, wise, and a good leader.

  3. Giving to the poor where you know who you are giving to but they don't know who gave to them.

  4. Giving to the poor where you don't know who you are giving to, but they know who gave to them.

  5. Giving to a poor person before they ask.

  6. Giving to a poor person after they ask.

  7. Giving to a poor person gladly and with a smile.

  8. Giving to a poor person unwillingly.
So, it seems like the TNL at the Gothic events have been category 2 type charity. However, there is also some elements of category 1 in there since both charity:water and Free the Girls have some elements of creating jobs for impoverished people as well.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Stories of Hearing from God

My church, The Next Level Church, is starting a new series is starting a new series called, "God Speaks". Or at least, that is what I think it will be called.

As part of the series, some people from the congregation were asked to provide their thoughts and experiences on hearing from God or God talking to them.

So over the next several weeks I'll write some posts on the following topics that are reflections on experiences that I have heard hearing from God.

1. Hearing from God in ways we don't expect
2. God talking through circumstance/coincidence
3. God talking through the Bible
3. The audacity of thinking we'll hear from God when we don't spend time with Him

I am definitely no expert on hearing from God. In fact, I am pretty poor at it. Alot of my Christian life I have been very lazy costing by on knowledge gained from years spent in church. My faith has been very cerebral and more about how much knowledge I have gained. Over the last year, I am journeying through the process of trying to interact with God more personally, attacking my sin more strongly, and trying to actually spend time with Him.

These posts will be another way for me to process through the ways that I've heard from God in the past, and hopefully learn how I can interact better with Him in the future.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

"Well, that's what Jesus said"

As told on "This American Life #188 Kid Logic"

"It all began on Christmas 2 years ago when my daughter was 4 years old. It was the first time that she had ever asked what did this holiday mean. I explained to her that this was celebrating the birth of Jesus. And she wanted to know more about that and we went out and bought a kids Bible. And had these readings at night. She loved them and wanted to know everything about Jesus. So we read alot about his birth and about his teaching. She would ask constantly what that phrase was. And I would explain to her that it was 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'. And we would talk about those old words and what that all meant.

Then one day we were driving past a big church and out front was an enormous crucifix.

She said, 'Who is that?'.

I guess I never really told that part of the story.

So I had to kind of tell her 'Well that's Jesus, and I forgot to tell you the ending. He ran afoul of the Roman government. This message that he had was so radical and unnerving to the prevailing authorites at the time that they had to kill him. They came to the conclusion that he would have to die. That message was too troubling.'

It was about a month later after that Christmas. We had gone through the whole story of what Christmas meant. It was mid-January and her preschool celebrates the same holidays as the local schools. So Martin Luther King Day was off. So I knocked off work that day and I decided we'd play and I'd take her out to lunch. And we were siiting in there and right on the table where we happened to plop down was the Arts section of the local newspaper. There big as life was a huge drawing by a 10 year old kid from the local schools of Martin Luther King.

She said, 'Who's that?'

I said, 'Well as it happens that's Martin Luther King. And he's why you aren't in school today. Because we are celebrating his birthday. This is the day we celebrate his life.'

She said, 'So who is he?'

I said, 'He was a preacher'

She looks at me and says, 'For Jesus?'

And I said, "Yeah actually he was. But there was another thing that he was famous for. Which is that he had a message'.

You are trying to say this to a 4 year old. This is the first time they ever hear anything. So you are just very careful about how you phrase everything.

So I said, 'Yeah he was a preacher and he had a message.'

And she said, 'What was his message?'

I said, 'Well he said that you should treat everybody the same no matter what they look like.'

She thought about that for a minute. And she said, 'Well, that's what Jesus said'.

And I said, 'Yeah I guess it is. I never thought about it that way. That is sort of like "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".'

She thought about for a minute and looked up to me and said, 'Did they kill him too?'

Friday, September 30, 2005

Muscle spasms

When Jesus walked the earth, he used his body to show love to others. His hands healed, his mouth told of God's plan, and his feet brought him to those who needed love. After Jesus had died, Paul said that we are body parts, such as hands, feat, eyes, and ears, making up the body of Christ.1

A hand that is cut off from a body is worthless. It just dies. But even if a hand is connected to the body, it can only be productive if it is connected to the nervous system. If it's not listening to the nervous system, it will just spasm pointlessly, or be paralyzed.

Jesus once compared himself to a vine, saying that we are like branches on that vine.2 In the same way, he is like the nervous system, and we are the body parts who should act according to direction from the nervous system. So we need to ask ourselves, are we connected, or are we just a muscle spasms?

1Romans 12:4-5, 1 Corinthians 12:14-30, Ephesians 3:6, Ephesians 4:25, Ephesians 5:30, Colossians 3:15
2John 15:1-6

Monday, September 26, 2005

What if?

There's this 20 year old girl, and she just found out she's pregnant. It seemed like such a great thing, but her boyfriend split -- he was totally weirded out. She has an abortion scheduled for 4 days from now. She spent all this money on tuition the last few years, and she's gotta finish school, so having to raise a baby alone would screw everything up. She goes to a Christian college, so she can't tell anybody. She really doesn't know of any other options. This is it, there's nothing she can do. She has trouble sleeping at night, struggling with the turmoil over this decision. But she knows if she can just get through this, she can move on with her life, and this will eventually move to the back, and she'll forget about it, and everything will be okay.

But what if she found herself in conversation with two other people -- a couple? They're about 35. This couple got married when they were about 23, so they've been married for about 12 years. A couple of years into their marriage, they said "Hey, let's start a family." But now it's 9 years later, and they still haven't had a child. Now they hear words like "infertility", and they have that haunting, sinking feeling that they will never be able to conceive. But what if they end up talking to this girl, not really knowing her story. What if they end up saying to her "there is nothing we would love more than to have a child to raise. Wouldn't that be the greatest thing in the world?"

What if another person joined the conversation, not really knowing either of their stories, ends up saying, "You know, I was adopted. Part of my inward journey, my healing, has been to realize that it wasn't that I was abandoned, it was that somebody took me in, and I am so grateful."

What if these people were joined by another couple, a 52-year-old couple, who had 3 kids, who had just dropped their youngest kid off at college. They've known this time was coming, where they would be "empty-nesters." They've been wondering what to do with the house, and with all the extra time they will have. So they've been praying for the last 9 months or so, saying "God, we have all these extra resources now, our space, our time. Take it, use it however you want."

What if all these people ended up in the same conversation, not really knowing each others' stories at first. Maybe things would begin to open up for our 20-year-old girl. Maybe things would begin to shift. Maybe her world would expand a bit. Maybe her present condition would begin to have hope.

This story was adapted from Rob Bell's sermon at Mars Hill on 9/26/5, available here

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Seeing Jesus Through a Porn Star

Part 1 of Series : The Truth is Out There

One of the stories that I have come across recently that makes a differience is a series of posts by Natala.

It is a story of when she was in college and ended up making friends with a porn star. It is hard to summarize the story without doing it an injustice. There is something about Natala's raw, honest style that makes the story very powerful and impactful.

There is some graphic language and content and it will take some time to read. However, I believe it is worth every minute of reading.

Porn Star - Part 1
Porn Star - Part 2 (Bathroom Photo's and Plato)
Porn Star - Part 3 (Emergeny Room Nights)
Porn Star - Part 4 (500 Dollars)
Porn Star - Part 5 (White Pill)
Porn Star - Part 6 (The E-mail)
Porn Star - Part 7 (And I Know He Watches Over Me)
Porn Star - Part 8 (Seeing Jesus Through A Porn Star)

"in the end, this girl,
the porn star,
the crack addict
the alcoholic
the h.i.v. patient
the slut
the druggie
the one who sold herself
the one that the church told me to stay away from...

this porn star... showed me the beauty and presence of god, more than i had ever known." - Part 8

Read this series to see how Natala was shown the beauty of God by someone that society says is worthless.

P.S. Read the series all the way through from the beginning for the best effect.

The Truth Is Out There

So much of the Internet is a waste of time.

I waste a lot more time then I should randomly surfing websites, reading blogs, playing games etc.

Every once and a while you find something worthwhile or educational. Then, even less frequently, you come across something that effectively challenges you to be a better person.

We are creating a series called "The Truth is Out There", in order to connect you with those life-changing stories.

Part 1: Seeing Jesus Through a Porn Star - A story of beauty in what society deems worthless.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The man who had God-given desires

A man believed that his desires were given to him by God. After all, Psalm 37:4 says "Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires." Since his desires were given to him by God, he figured that if he followed his heart, he would be doing what God wanted him to do.

He saw a homeless man on the interstate exit. He had an overflow of compassion for him, so he knew it was God's will for him to give some money to the homeless man.

He really wanted to get married, so he knew it was God's will for him to get married.

He really liked football, so he knew it was God's will for him to buy season tickets for the Denver Broncos.

He met a beautiful woman on a business trip. He wanted to sleep with her, so he knew it was God's will for him to cheat on his wife.

A man wronged him, and he got really mad. He wanted to kill the man, so he knew it was God's will for him to kill the man.

As long as he followed his desires, he believed he was pleasing God.

I'm not sure if God agreed.
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